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This is the archive for June 2006

Friday, June 30, 2006

While reading "A Rough Introduction to This Sunny Land: The Civil War Diary of Private Henry A. Strong, Co. K, Twelfth Kansas Infantry" edited by Tom Wing (Butler Center for Arkansas Studies) I came across a mention of soldiers playing Uchre. Luckily, the editor, Mr. Tom Wing, offered a footnote that explained it was a popular card game with the soldiers and that he had seen many mentions of said game in other letters in documents.

This intrigued me; I wanted to know what the heck it was so off I went.

First, I went to Wikipedia, nothing. Then I searched Google. It had a few things but most were on some foreign company, my favorite, one of those squatter sites that have a list of things to purchase. Thank goodness I had a popup blocker on, who knows what would have shown up if I hadn’t.

But Google is cool and asked if I actually meant Euchre, which I apparently did because the first listing for that of the rules of the card game Euchre. More surprisingly, it is played still around the world – if you count the mid-west of the US, Canada, parts of England and the US Navy the whole world.

Once spelled right, Wikipedia provided a great summary. It’s a game that has two teams of two playing each other for “tricks”. My mind was a bit in the gutter at first and thought, no wonder the soldiers played this, until I read that it was not what I thought but actually who won the hand that was dealt. Disappointing.

It seemed a bit confusing at first but if you are interested in seeing what was popular with some soldiers of the Civil War, you can try the game out at free online at Lycos. Me, I’m going to stick with Solitaire, seems much easier.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

It’s “Adventures in Research Day” where we get to talk a bit about our (mis)Adventures researching the Civil War and the 18th Massachusetts.

One of the tools that I feel has had the greatest impact for us has been having a website. It’s amazing to think that what started off 10 years ago as an offshoot of a genealogy website has become such a big part of our research and life.

It was the website that brought Donald and I together and I still remember thinking to myself, “Who is this crazy guy thinking we could write a book about the 18th?” when he first proposed working together. Thank goodness I decided he wasn’t crazy after all.

It was the website that brought dozens of other descendants to us, sharing pictures, obituaries and stories of their ancestors from after the war. It was these personal items and notes that we could never have found scouring the internet, libraries and historical societies. I am thankful each time I look at them and think how helpful some people in the Civil War Research community can be.

It was actually the website that brought me together with my GG-Grandfather’s Civil War artifacts. The original seller found me on the web and contacted me about them. Sometimes all you have to do is sit and wait for people to come to you.

And to be honest, it’s not as hard as people think. I knew nothing about website building than - although some people would say I still don’t – I won’t argue. The first site took about 10 minutes to build and it looked like it. It had a short history of the unit and a paragraph begging people to help me find more information out. As I found more information out, I posted it. In today’s world it is even easier, with software that does all of the hard work for you much different then when I had to figure out HTML by trial and error.

It does not have to be a big production, sometimes simple works just as well. I have been impressed more times by a site that had just a page or two of good information than a flashy page that gave you nothing of substance but lots of graphics and sounds to drive you nuts.

You can find cheap ways to put the sites together. When we started, I used GeoCities which offered free websites and building tools. Although I know there are still free places out there, we currently use doteasy which registers the domain and then has a host for free option.

The biggest thing, don’t expect to get a lot of hits. Advertise your site so that people can find you but Regimental pages as a whole are very niche and unless someone has a personal interest in it – you probably won’t see them often.

Just don’t get discouraged, keep on pushing forward. It seems whenever I am at that point, that another descendant emails me asking if I would like a picture or tidbit of information on their ancestor – something we didn’t have before that now helps us paint an even better picture of the unit. Something that would not have happened with the little webpage I put up on a whim so long ago.